Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Blog Kiosk: 11/26/2014 - Dodger Links - Gil Hodges, Jose DeLeon and "Dodger Day" in Oklahoma

This just might be the worst photo ever!  Above is Hanly Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval doing the 'I see you' sign, via Sandoval on instagram.

On a more positive note, Hanley thanked the fans on his facebook page. He says,
Thank you God for the blessing of allowing me to wear #Dodgerblue, where I learned how to be a winner, where I shared so many exciting and unforgettable moments with, and received so much love from my beloved #HanleyWood fans. Our 2 division championships in 2 years brought me some of the best times of my career, and I will be forever grateful for that. GRACIAS. @dodgers #donnieyourethebest
Thanks Hanley!  It was a pleasure watching play in Blue.

Below are some links to check out:
  • This is for Dodger fans in or near Oklahoma City.  The Dodgers new AAA minor league club will be hostin "Dodger Day" on December 3rd.  Go here for information.  Gabe Kapler and Scott Schebler will be there to sign for fans.
"With the team store being ready to re-open and with all the holiday excitement around Bricktown, we felt this was a great time to celebrate our new partnership with the Dodgers along with our great fans," said RedHawks President/General Manager Michael Byrnes.

The event will feature appearances by new Dodgers Director of Player Development Gabe Kapler and top Dodgers prospect Scott Schebler.
Hodges had enough votes to be elected by the Veterans Committee in 1993 (12 out of 16), only to have committee chair Ted Williams disallow the vote of Roy Campanella, one of Hodges' former teammates, because he did not attend the meeting in person. Campanella was hospitalized at the time. With that ballot rejected, Hodges and Leon Day were left one vote short of enshrinement, with 11 of the 15 votes leaving them at 73.3 percent, 1.7 percent shy. Campanella died three months later. Day was elected when the new committee met two years later.
“I want to golf with Kershaw,” he said. “I want to figure out how he can be so ice cold. Pitching, I think, is a lot like golf. It’s so repetitive, and you need to have a real good mental game. I’d like to see how he does in golf and get inside head.”
  • As you might have heard, Hanley Ramirez is expected to play left field for the Red Sox.  Former Dodger Pedro Guerrero provides his assessment of that transition on twitter:

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    Tuesday, November 25, 2014

    Jeff Hamilton's 1988 WS Trophy and Game-Worn Uniform at Worthridge Auctions

    Here is another auction house featuring player memorabilia from the Dodgers 1988 World Championship.  As you may remember, 1988 World Series Dodger reliever Jesse Orosco had his trophy up for auction at Heritage Auctions earlier this month.  BTW, that trophy sold for $9,560.00.  This time around, Dodger infielder Jeff Hamilton has both his trophy and game-used World Series uniform up for sale.  I wonder what it'll sell for.  Check them out below.

    Here is Hamilton's game-used 1988 World Series uniform.  It includes his jersey and pants.  As you can see, the jersey features the 1988 World Series patch on its right shoulder.  It has an opening bid of $600.

    (Auction Link)

    Take a look at Jeff Hamilton's 1988 World Series trophy.  I wonder if it'll eclipse the price for the Orosco trophy.  It has an opening price of $2,250.
    (Auction Link)

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    2014 Leaf Valiant Baseball - All the Dodger Cards

    Here's another prospect based Baseball card set to wet your whistle.  Last week Leaf released their 2014 Valiant Baseball card set and a couple of Dodger prospects are available in it.  Go here for a complete checklist.

    This set features colorful and shiny autographed-only cards of some of the best and most promising prospects in the Minors.  Available Dodgers include 2014 1st round draft pick Grant Holmes and promising infielder Darnell Sweeney.  There are also vintage 'buyback' Leaf cards that have been autographed and numbered to the players uniform number.  So far, I am only aware of the 1992 & 1991 Leaf Darryl Strawberry cards being available, but there may be more (a checklist has not been provided by Leaf).

    Base Autographs

    #BA-DS2 Darnell Sweeney                    #BA-GH1 Grant Holmes

    Out of this World Autographs

    #OW-GH1 Grant Holmes SSP

    BTW, although Strawberry wore #44 as a Dodger he signed only 18 of these cards for this set.  The #18 was the uniform number he wore during his eight years as a New York Met.

    Leaf Memories Buybacks

    1991 Leaf Darryl Strawberry (#/18)        1992 Leaf Darryl Strawberry (#/18)

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    Blog Kiosk: 11/25/2014 - Dodger Links - Editorializing the Dodgers

    Here is a fantastic ACME Press Photo, circa 1940, from high up in the rafters of Ebbets Field.  I ran into this on eBay.  Check out the auction here.

    On a side note, I am more than pleased with the current moves the Dodger front office is making.  They are measured, deliberate and necessary changes meant to provide depth in areas that are lacking with the club.  Not only that, several of the new Dodger players appear to have some upside that may translate well if given different roles.  No doubt they are gambles, but they appear to be worthwhile.

    In the past, the Dodgers tried going the veteran route - figuring their money would solve any problems.  They went after old horses with an easy to understand history, but they got burned.  Soon, fans and the press complained.  Now they are choosing to go a different route by trying to find a competitive advantage by taking some risk... And still you complain? 

    None of these recent moves are flashy or headline grabbing, and I don't think that the current leadership cares about any of that - and neither should you.  Heck, you never should have built up the expectation that the Dodgers were going to do something major to begin with.  They were never going to sign Russell Martin.  Hanley Ramirez was always going to be allowed to go elsewhere.  And you shouldn't expect the Dodgers to sign a Lester or trade for Cole. 

    What you should expect is some resolution to the outfield situation.  Someone or more will get traded, and I do not believe Kemp will be that man.  He has significant value (given his 2014 second half he would make a bundle in todays free agent market), and unless another team is willing to pony up he will remain in Blue.  Instead, we'll see a trade that includes cash and some minor prospects.

    We are in a new Dodger era - an era that does not include trying to be the Yankees of the West.  Instead, we are a Dodger franchise set on the intention of playing it smart.  We have the cash, the brains and now the will to make it all happen.  Don't sully that by giving yourself false expectations of the future.  What you want is not the same thing as what we need.

    Below are some links to check out:
    It’s quite possible they’ll live with the in-house options, giving Erisbel Arruebarrena (who will earn his $25 million by 2017 whether he’s in the big leagues or minors) first crack at it. Miguel Rojas will be standing by if he flounders. The Dodgers’ defense would improve significantly, but the offensive drop-off from Hanley to either of those guys would be vast.
    • Listen to the most recent episode of Dodger Talk with David Vassegh and Kevin Kennedy, here.  Dodger GM Farhan Zaidi joins them at about the 22:30 minute mark.  He mentions that one of their focuses will be to find under-the-radar tough-luck starters to convert into relievers.  I think this is the basis for the recent trades for Mike Bolsinger and Juan Nicasio.
    • Via Mike Petriello at Dodgers Digest, "Juan Nicasio, Fascinating Relief Project."
    Though Nicasio would be at the moment likely the team’s fifth starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu, and Dan Haren, I’m really not interested in him in that role, and I think we all know the Dodgers will move to add another starter. But as a reliever, a two-pitch guy who can touch 95 in short stints? Well, that’s fascinating, really, because I’ve long loved the idea of taking mediocre starters who don’t have a good enough third pitch or velocity to survive in the rotation and turning them into relief assets. I’m not suggesting that Nicasio will be Wade Davis, but you get the idea — it’s the exact same thing.
    • On Joe DiMaggio's 100th birthday check out this post by Paul Frazier at Picollecta about his life through collectibles. 
    • A Jackie Robinson Tribute from UCLA.

    Video Link:

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    Monday, November 24, 2014

    Welcome to the Blue, Juan Nicasio!

    The Dodgers brass continues to build up some depth in the bullpen; thereby addressing holes in the roster that proved fatal last season.  Via a tweet from the Dodgers, they trade for Rockies RHP Juan Nicasio in exchange for cash or PTBNL.

    Juan Nicasio had been a starter, but was converted to a reliever during the middle of the past season.  Via a Dodger press release:
    Nicasio, 28, was 6-6 with a 5.38 ERA 33 games (14 starts) for the Rockies last season, his fourth in the big leagues. During the second half of the season, Nicasio appeared exclusively out of the bullpen and posted a 3.48 ERA in 19 games, including a stretch in September when he allowed just one run in nine games (9.2 IP).

    The native of the Dominican Republic owns a career mark of 21-22 in 88 career games (69 starts), all with Colorado from 2011-14. In 2013, Nicasio established career highs in wins (9), starts (31), innings (157.2) and strikeouts (119). In his career at Dodger Stadium, the right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA (14 ER/34.2 IP) and a .244 opponents' batting average in seven games (six starts).
    Nicasio throws primarily a hard fastball and slider.  Since becoming a reliever batters have hit just .227 against him; while seeing his strike out rate, walk rate, WHIP and FIP improve.  Via Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors:
    Nicasio has averaged about 93 mph on his heater throughout his career, and a look at his velocity chart (courtesy of Fangraphs) from 2014 shows that his fastball jumped to nearly 95 mph when pitching out of the ‘pen late in the season.
    BTW, Juan Nicasio has had some bad luck with injuries.  In  2011 Nicasio was struck in the head with a batted ball that almost took his life.  While pitching against Nationals, Ian Desmond hit a line drive that went straight for Nicasio's head and caused him to fall awkwardly.  As a result of losing his balance, he fell on the ground and fractured a vertebrae in his neck.  Then the following year, he twisted his knee while fielding a groundball that resulted in arthroscopic surgery.  He has been healthy since then.  Below is a video of Nicasio getting hit with the ball.

    Video Link:

    In celebration of Nicasio's arrival to the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph grabbed from a photo from Zimbio (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America) and the 1987 Topps Baseball card design.

    Below are the career stats for Juan Nicasio, via Baseball-Reference:

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    Campanella's Jacket and a Ladies 1955 WS Ring at Grey Flannel Auctions

    Grey Flannel is currently running their most recent auction and it includes a couple of Dodger items I wanted to share. 

    This first item is for the ladies.  Featured below is a 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers Ladies Championship ring.  It originally was owned by executive secretary Ann Speranzo.  She worked for the Dodgers traveling secretary Harold Parrot. 
    (Auction Link)

    I love this next item.  Here is an 1950's era Brooklyn Dodger jacket worn by Hall or Famer Roy Campanella.  Via the auction description:
    Accompanied by a LOA from when the jacket was originally obtained by our consignor in a 1986 charity auction held by the Dodgers 65 Roses Club and his winning invoice. We were told by our consignor that while bidding on this jacket in the 1986 charity auction, he was informed that it was consigned directly from the Campanella's and that it was worn in 1955 when the Dodgers won the World Series and Campanella won his third National League MVP award. Campanella is listed as an officer of the 65 Roses Club.
    The 65 Roses Club is a charity that supports donations to Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  It is named the 65 Roses Club because children stricken with the disease find it much easier for them to pronounce that then the name of the disease.  In the past, the Dodger group would make donations to the foundation based on the number of home runs they hit and held an annual Dodger Family Fashion Show to support the cause.  I am unsure how active the group is today.
    (Auction Link)

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    Blog Kiosk: 11/24/2014 - Dodger Links - Hanley to Sign with Boston and the Fernando Triple Hits Card

    The card featured above is fantastic.  This is the 2014 Topps Triple Threads - Triple Hits card of Fernando Valenzuela.  As you can see, it's an oversized card with an autograph, a game-used jersey piece and an actual handprint of the left-handed hurler (unfortunately a right-handed print).  Pic via JimmyMahan on twitterGo here to see a pic of Fernando making the handprints of this card that was shared by Topps on twitter.

    Below are some links to check out:
    We were honored to have Clayton, A.J., Brandon, and Brandon in for a visit to the Dominican Republic. From attending devotions to spending time with kids preparing for and recovering from surgery – as well as witnessing a surgery – to visiting the home of a child who had been healed at CURE, the group was able to see a wide range of what CURE does on a daily basis. It was encouraging for us to hear that throughout the course of the day, they saw the gospel being expressed through the work of CURE.
    • Via Roch Kubatko at MASN Sports, "Buck Britton signs with Dodgers."  He gets a Spring invite and has an opt-out clause in his new Dodger contract.
    Orioles manager Buck Showalter liked Britton's versatility. He's played all four infield positions and left and right field, and he took the mound twice this season when Norfolk ran out of pitchers.
    • Mike Petriello at Dodger Digests throws in his two cents on Buck Britton, "A Reason To Maybe Be Interested in Buck Britton."
    • Traitor! Via Stacie Wheeler at Lasorda's Lair, "Carlos Triunfel Signs With Giants."
    • Via Michael O'Keefe at the Daily News, "Of photos and frauds! Probe that took down memorabilia giant Mastro now turns spotlight on Arkansas archivist John Rogers."  (Hat Tip: Rich Mueller at SCD)
    • Pat Quinn, the LA Kings coach of my youth, died on Sunday.  RIP, Pat Quinn.  Via Katie Strang at ESPN, "Longtime coach Pat Quinn dies at 71."
    • Good bye, Hanley.  Thanks for the memories.  (And just to clarify, we were only going to get a supplemental pick once he signs elswhere, so the fact that the Red Sox pick is protected doesn't change that.  All it changes is that the teams behind them do not move up one spot in the 1st round draft order, and the Sox lose their 2nd round pick)  Via a tweet by Ken Rosenthal:

    UPDATE:  Contract is now believed to be much higher than what is stated above.  Via a recent Rosenthal tweet, it is expected to be 4 years at $88Mil with a vesting option for a 5th year at $22Mil.
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    Sunday, November 23, 2014

    The Brooklyn Dodgers, Roberto Clemente and the Rule 5 Draft

    With the Rule 5 Draft quickly approaching it's interesting to see what teams are doing to transition players in and out of their 40-man rosters.  Sometimes trades are consummated, as evidenced by the two most recent Dodger trades with the Rays and Diamondbacks, but other times a club may gamble a bit by leaving a good prospect unprotected in hopes they get passed over by other clubs.

    This brings up the main reason why I am writing this post.  The most famous Rule 5 Draftee to ever get plucked off a teams roster and to go on to fantastic heights is Roberto Clemente.  And, as I'm sure you likely know, he was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates off the 1954 Brooklyn Dodger roster.

    That's right folks, the great Roberto Clemente was once a Dodger... shoulda been a Dodger.

    This makes me wonder, what the heck happened?  How could a team known for an excellent farm system and having a great ability at recognizing talent not protect a future star like Clemente?  Is there a story behind this?

    Well, I'm currently reading an biography by Andy McCue on Water O'Malley called, "Mover & Shaker: Walter O'Malley, the Dodgers, & Baseball's Westward Expansion," and it does its best to explain the machinations behind the scenes.  Below is an excerpt.  BTW, this book is one of the most detailed books I've ever read about O'Malley's Dodgers, and I highly recommend it to any Dodger fan.  Now on to a passage in the book regarding Roberto Clemente:
    The other player was another Hall of Famer, Roberto Clemente, and, again, roster limits played a role.  Clemente signed in February 1954 for $15,000.  Because that was over $4,000, the bonus rule mandated the Dodgers put him on their roster or risk having him drafted by another team the next winter.  Bavasi felt the Dodger roster was full and decided to take the risk.  It did not work.  That December (Branch) Rickey and the Pirates drafted Clemente.

    In more than three decades of talent evaluation, Buzzie Bavasi made few mistakes.  Clemente was clearly one of them, and an unnecessarily defensive Bavasi told many stories over the years about how it happened, some involving Walter O'Malley.

    In the earliest rendering Bavasi gave the loss the "irrelevant" label by saying the Dodgers had signed the Puerto Rican outfielder only to keep him away from the Giants.  A few years later he was resigned.  "That was probably my biggest mistake," he told Charles Maher of the Los Angeles Times.  "We can blame the rules for part of it, but part of it was our judgment."

    Later still, his version began to have scapegoats.  The first was O'Malley.  Bavasi said he was fully aware of Clemente's talent and knew Branch Rickey and the Pirates were convinced of it, too.  Bavasi said he went to Rickey, his old mentor, and called on his friendship.  Rickey agreed not to take Clemente.  But, Bavasi said, Rickey and O'Malley got into a shouting match over some unrelated issue at an owners meeting.  O'Malley cursed Rickey and Rickey changed his mind.

    In later renderings a racial issue was added.  Bavasi told author Thomas Oliphant both the O'Malley cursing tale and that O'Malley ordered him to limit the number of blacks on the team because he was fearful of fan and team reaction.  Clemente was a very dark-skinned Latino, and in Bavasi's final version it was now O'Malley's partners who had vetoed the idea of more blacks, an angle he also told Oliphant.  He cited the partners as Jim Mulvey and John Smith.  Mulvey was back on the board of directors in 1954, but O'Malley had full control.  Bavasi evidently forgot Smith had been dead neary four years by the time the Dodgers even signed Clemente.
    We may never know the real reason for the ill-fated decision to not protect Roberto Clemente from the Rule 5 Draft, or if there's really any reason at all.  After all, sometimes things just happen, and as a Dodger fan that fact only helps you appreciate how crazy this game really is.  As a side note, yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the plundering of the Dodgers by the Pirates.  That sounds so apropos, doesn't it?

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    Saturday, November 22, 2014

    Another Dodger Trade - Welcome to the Blue, Mike Bolsinger!

    Following on the heals of the Joel Peralta trade, the Dodger add another arm to the club by picking up Diamondbacks prospect Mike Bolsinger for cash.  He is a 26-year old right-handed starting pitcher drafted in the 15th round of the 2010 Draft out of the University of Arkansas.  Bolsinger got his first taste of Major League play last season.  Via a Dodgers press release:
    Bolsinger, 26, appeared in 10 games (nine starts) for the Diamondbacks last season, going 1-6. He made his Major League debut on April 14 vs. the New York Mets, tossing 3.0 innings of relief and then made his first big league start on April 19 at Dodger Stadium. The 6'2 hurler recorded his first-career win in his next outing on April 24 at Wrigley Field, tossing 6.1 innings and limiting the Cubs to just one unearned run. He was 8-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 17 games (16 starts) for the Triple-A Reno Aces in 2014, striking out 88 batters in 91.2 innings pitched.
    Regarding his start against the Dodgers last year., via Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider:
    You might remember against the Dodgers on April 19, Bolsinger took a 4-0 lead into the fourth inning before allowing a three-run homer to Andre Ethier and eventually getting the loss in an 8-6 Dodger victory.
    Bolsinger was also tangentially involved in a nasty bench-clearing brawl last year in AAA against the Isotopes that resulted in 10 ejections.  Via a report by Chad Moriyama at Dodgers Digest about the incident:
    Now fast forward to yesterday during Arruebarrena’s first plate appearance. (Reno) Aces pitcher Mike Bolsinger clearly wanted to send a message and threw at Erisbel with the first pitch, but the plate appearance continued on relatively normally after that. Eventually, Arruebarrena struck out, and while he stood there to argue the strike three call, catcher Blake Lalli seemed to brush by him with a purpose.
    So, is Bolsinger worth a spot on the Dodger 40-man roster?  Well, I'll refer you to a story written by Jared Kwart at MoxyBall at the close of the season:
    Moving over to the National League, Mike Bolsinger jumps off the page as someone who has had a lot of bad luck in 2014 as well. He has a steady base of skills from a K (8.25 K/9) and BB (2.92 BB/9) perspective. With a 3.31 xFIP compared to a 5.50 ERA, we don’t have to look much further than a .355 BABIP to see we can expect better things from Bolsinger once positive regression kicks in.

    While he’ll never be an ace in a major league rotation, he’s shown the ability to get batters out at the highest professional level and should have a nice career. He’s back in AAA for the time being, but should get a look in 2015 to help the Diamondbacks at the major league level over the course of the season. Deep league owners and NL-only players should keep this name filed away for when he surfaces on the big league roster as a potential back-end starter option to eat innings and chip in a few Ks.
    So, I guess taking Bolsinger is a gamble, but a worthwhile one.  When you consider that all it cost us was some cash instead of a player, you certainly have to like the bet the Dodger front office is making.  Bolsinger has some positive attributes; such as his strike out and walk rate, and at the very least provides some minor league depth should the Dodgers need an arm to start a game.  Who knows, maybe they can convert him into a long guy out of the pen.

    In celebration of Bolsinger's arrival to the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph grabbed from a photo from Zimbio (Norm Hall/Getty Images North America) and the 1970 Topps Baseball card design.

    Below are the career stats for Joel Peralta, via Baseball-Reference:

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    Blog Kiosk: 11/22/2014 - Dodger Links - Jackie Robinson, Kershaw's New Home and a Bob Miller Documentary

    UCLA honored Alum Jackie Robinson yesterday afternoon by naming their athletics facilities the Jackie Robinson Athletics and Recreation Complex.  Jackie's wife, Rachel who was also a graduate in nursing at UCLA, was on hand to celebrate the event.  In the photo above she is standing with Chancellor Gene Block, pic via @UCLAAthletics on twitter.  Via Jason Dratch at the Daily Bruin:
    “UCLA was the place where our lives together began and where many of our values and goals were established,” Rachel Robinson said. “Jack was very proud to be Bruin. We thrived in this university that supported our goals and achievements.”

    During his speech, Block focused on the influence that Robinson still has on the UCLA community today.

    “This is a place about people and people’s impact on the world,” Block said. “Over the course of the last century, UCLA students and facility have distinguished themselves as barrier breakers, transforming our world through discoveries and actions that pushed past previously established limits of knowledge and societal conventions.”
    Below are some more links to check out:
    • Newest Dodger Adam Liberatore is on twitter.  You can follow him here: @adamlib21.
    • Via Jennifer Karmon at Spaces on Yahoo, "Clayton Kershaw buys family-ready home base in Los Angeles."  Wow!  He's got quite a nice place in Studio City now.
    Clayton Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, purchased a house in the Valley for $4 million, scarcely 10 miles from Dodger Stadium. The high school sweethearts (dating back to ninth grade!) are expecting their first child, a daughter, in January.
    “He has been so spectacular that you realize this is a guy who’s going to be around for a long time,” (Rich) Mueller said. “You look at Sandy Koufax, who retired in 1966, what he accomplished in his short period of time. Kershaw, if he stays healthy, is going to surpass some what Koufax did, which is unconscionable.”
    • In early December a documentary about LA Kings announcer Bob Miller will open at Regal Cinema L.A. LIVE (across the street from STAPLES Center).  It'll begin on December 5th and will run for a minimum of one week.  All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Kings Care Foundation.  The documentary is called "Voice of the King."  Below is a trailer.  Go here for the website.

    Video Link:

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